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US Envoy: Syria on "Wrong Side of War on Terrorism

Transcript: Syria on "Wrong Side of War on Terrorism," U.S. Envoy Says

Negroponte's remarks to U.N. Security Council on Israeli air strike

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte urged both Israel and Syria "to think carefully about the consequences of their actions" but said "Syria is on the wrong side of the war on terrorism."

Negroponte made his remarks in connection with an emergency U.N. Security Council session October 5 that Syria called after Israel struck alleged terrorist bases in Syria following a terrorist attack at a restaurant in Haifa, Israel, that killed 19.

At the emergency meeting, Negroponte said "we believe it is in Syria's interest and in the broader interest of Middle East peace for Syria to stop harboring and supporting the groups that perpetrate terrorist acts such as the one that occurred in Haifa yesterday."

Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Negroponte said that the draft resolution proposed by Syria condemning Israel for the attacks is "not what we think is needed."

"Any serious resolution on this subject has to address the points we've repeatedly raised in our debates about the Middle East," he said. "Notably, the need for an explicit condemnation of the groups that have claimed responsibility for acts of terror and a call for dismantling the infrastructure which supports such acts, wherever located."

Following are the transcripts of the ambassador's remarks to the Security Council and of his comments to reporters after the council session:

(begin Security Council transcript)

USUN PRESS RELEASE
Statement by Ambassador John D. Negroponte,
United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in his national capacity on the Situation in the Middle East, in the Security Council
October 5, 2003

I am now going to make a statement in my capacity as Representative of the United States.

We call on all sides to avoid heightening tension in the Middle East and to think carefully about the consequences of their actions.

We were notified this morning of the Israeli action in Syria last night after the event. At 9:00 A.M. this morning, President Bush called Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and conveyed our condolences for the victims of Saturday's terrorist attack at a restaurant in Haifa which claimed the lives of 19 Israelis, including 3 children and 5 Israeli Arabs, and wounded dozens more. The United States and the Government of Israel agreed that it is important to avoid actions that could lead to a further heightening of tension in the Middle East.

The United States believes that Syria is on the wrong side of the war on terrorism. We have been clear of the need for Syria to cease harboring terrorist groups. Specific directions for terrorist acts continue to be issued from terrorist groups based in Syria. During his visit to Damascus this year, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Government of Syria this was unacceptable and intolerable. I, myself, made this point to Syrian Foreign Minister al-Sharaa in June of 2002 in this chamber. We believe it is in Syria's interest and in the broader interest of Middle East peace for Syria to stop harboring and supporting the groups that perpetrate terrorist acts such as the one that occurred in Haifa yesterday.

(end Security Council transcript)

(begin transcript of comments to reporters)

USUN PRESS RELEASE
October 5, 2003

Remarks by Ambassador John D. Negroponte, United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in his national capacity on the Situation in the Middle East, at the Security Council stakeout, October 5, 2003

Ambassador Negroponte: Well you heard the statement I made to the Council, but speaking in my national capacity I would just like to say that we urged to both Syria and Israel to avoid any actions that could lead to heightened tension. And we've consistently told Syria that it must cease harboring terrorists and make a clean break from those who are responsible for the planning and directing of terrorist action from Syrian soil.

Regarding the Syrian text, we will send the draft back to Washington for review. However let me say that another resolution on the Middle East is not what we think is needed; what we think is needed is for the Government of Syria to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure within its borders. And as far as we're concerned any serious resolution on this subject has to address the points we've repeatedly raised in our debates about the Middle East. Notably, the need for an explicit condemnation of the groups that have claimed responsibility for acts of terror, and a call for dismantling the infrastructure, which supports such acts, wherever located, in compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373.

And let me just add one point by way of rebuttal to something the Syrian delegate said at the very end of our debate, where he denied that they were harboring activities of this kind. And I see today here in an AP story from the Golan Heights, a senior PFLP member speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledging that there is close cooperation between his group, the Islamic Jihad, the militant Hamas and the Lebanese guerilla faction Hezbollah. And all four of them he said trained together mostly in Lebanon, but also in Syria.

Reporter: Ambassador, does the U.S. condemn the Israeli air strikes? And if not, why not?

Ambassador Negroponte: We've urged both Israel and Syria to avoid actions that could lead to heightened tension. And we've said that, and again this applies to both sides. We think that both sides should be conscious that their actions -- contemplate what impact they might have on the future prospects for peace and a peaceful resolution of these questions. So we think people should be mindful of the long-term impact that their actions can have.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, are you going to discuss this tomorrow? And would you have a vote on this resolution?

Ambassador Negroponte: The agreement in the consultations was that many delegations had to send this text back to their capitals for instructions and that further consultations on this draft would take place as soon as possible. We didn't specify the time. And we certainly didn't discuss the timing for a vote.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, do you see any sense in dividing the condemnation between the Syrians and the Israelis?

Ambassador Negroponte: I'm sorry I don't catch your -

Reporter: You seem to condemn the Syrians for promoting terrorism. Would you, instead of deploring the Israeli action, do you see any sense in condemning the Israeli action at the same time?

Ambassador Negroponte: First, I'm not going to go further than what I just said. And I think also, if I could, in the context of the events of this weekend, let's not forget that a suicide bombing took place in Haifa, 19 Israelis were killed, including some Arab Israelis and 50 more people were wounded. So it just is incredible to me that in the wake of an event like that a draft resolution coming from a delegation on the Council would have no reference whatsoever to this dastardly act. Thank you very much.


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